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Alabama expungement basics

The Alabama Expungement Statute allows a person to petition a court to have the record of a criminal offense expunged.  When a record is expunged, it is “erased” from beginning to end, such that there will no longer be a record of the criminal offense.

Not all criminal offenses are eligible for expungement.  Only criminal offenses that did not result in a conviction, and that are not defined as violent are eligible for expungement. 

 There are forty-five (45) criminal offenses in Alabama that are defined as violent.  None of these violent offenses are eligible for expungement at this time, even if the offense did not result in a conviction.  For example, if a person was charged with murder and the charge was later dismissed or the person was found not guilty, the charge still could not be expunged under Alabama law.

Expungement is not an automatic process.  There are waiting periods that apply to criminal offenses.  Once the waiting period is concluded, a person who wishes to expunge or “erase” his case must petition the circuit court in the county where the charge occurred.  Once the petition is filed, the prosecutor has forty-five (45) days within which to object to the expungement.  If the prosecutor objects, then the Circuit Court Judge will set a hearing on the petition.

Whether or not there is a hearing on the petition, the decision to grant the petition for expungement is entirely up to the discretion of the Circuit Court Judge and will not be reversed by a higher court absent an abuse of discretion by that judge.

If expungement is granted, the entire record of the criminal offense is erased.  The record of that particular criminal offense will no longer show up on a background check.  There is no longer a duty to disclose the record of the criminal offense on an application for employment, credit, or any other type application.  There is, however, a continuing duty to disclose the record of the criminal offense to any government regulatory or licensing agency, any utility, any bank or other financial institution, or to any law enforcement agency upon application of employment thereto.